New Zealand Embassy The Hague, The Netherlands

New Zealand Statement to the 15th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention

Delivered on Monday 29 November 2010 by Ambassador George Troup, New Zealand's Permanent Representative to the OPCW

 

Thank you, Mr Chairman.  We value the opportunity this general debate provides to voice New Zealand’s support for the Chemical Weapons Convention, a key treaty in the multilateral disarmament framework. We wish to express our appreciation for the work of the Technical Secretariat and the efforts of States Parties towards the Convention’s purpose.

 

We listened with interest to Director-General Üzümcü’s opening address this morning, his first in his new role. He pointed to our shared goals: universal adherence, coupled with full and effective implementation of the Convention; the destruction of all existing chemical weapons; and maintenance of this position through an effective verification regime. The Director-General has signalled an increased emphasis on publicising the OPCW’s work. We support his efforts in this direction and see good opportunities to draw attention to the organisation’s achievements and future challenges in association with the International Year of Chemistry in 2011.

 

Since its entry into force, real progress has been made in expanding adherence to the Convention. The remaining States not Party will be difficult to bring on board. It will require the combined efforts of Member States and the Technical Secretariat to encourage those states still outside the Convention to recognise the benefits that membership offers for their own security, as well as the contribution that universal adherence will make to global peace and security.

 

National implementation of the Convention is fundamental to its effectiveness. The most recent reports from the Technical Secretariat show the progress towards full implementation is slow, especially in those states constrained by small bureaucracies and competing political priorities. In our own region, a workshop on national implementation for Pacific Island States was hosted by the Technical Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum in July, with funding from the Republic of Korea. This provided States Parties with an opportunity to address their specific requests for legal and capacity-building assistance. Following the workshop, Niue submitted its implementing legislation to the Technical Secretariat, for inclusion in this year’s reports to the Conference on implementation of Article VII.

 

International cooperation and assistance activities are key elements of the Convention’s implementation. We appreciated the efforts of the International Cooperation and Assistance Division in organising last week’s Article XI workshop. This provided a useful opportunity to discuss the economic and technological development of States Parties in line with the provisions of the Convention. States Parties’ support for this aspect of the OPCW’s work is clearly shown by the steady increase in resources allocated to ICA in recent years, culminating in funding for the Assistex III exercise held in Tunisia in October. If States Parties agree to continue funding for ICA at this level in 2011, this will constitute an enormous boost to that division’s resources. It is important that the programmes drawing on these resources are well-coordinated and their outcomes evaluated to ensure an effective contribution to the core objectives of the Convention.

 

At this Conference we are once again in the position of not yet having an agreed budget, with disagreement on the number of Article VI inspections the Technical Secretariat will undertake in 2011. New Zealand’s position on this issue is well known. We are keen to see an increase in the number of Other Chemical Production Facility inspections for 2011 in line with the carefully-judged proposal of the Director General. It strikes a balance between a clear need to step up OCPF inspections, and the Organisation’s capacity to undertake additional inspections within budget baselines.  We do not want to see the technical judgement and expertise of the Director-General and the Technical Secretariat undermined by political considerations. 

 

A credible and fair methodology of site selection remains fundamental to the OCPF inspection regime and we welcome the consultations led by the Dutch and Malaysian Ambassadors on this issue. We recognise that ongoing work on the issues that underlie industry inspections is required, but this is no reason to hold up progress in strengthening the verification regime. 

 

As we approach destruction of all chemical weapons, monitoring and inspection of Other Chemical Production Facilities will make an increasingly important contribution to the OPCW’s non-proliferation goal. Substantive discussions in the Open-Ended Working Group on Terrorism have highlighted the potential role of non-state actors in proliferating chemical weapons. Moving beyond the focus on destruction activities will have obvious implications for the size and composition of the Technical Secretariat. This will be the context of the policy-making organs’ coming task to determine the organisation’s future direction. This week, let’s concentrate on agreeing to do what we can right now to enhance the Convention’s unique verification regime.

 

Mr Chairman, I wish you well in your important task, and pledge the full support of the New Zealand delegation as we work towards a world free of chemical weapons.

 

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